The global pandemic has revealed weaknesses in our planning, priorities, and systems and has highlighted individuals’ and institutions’ flawed approaches to risk management and decision-making. But at the same time, it has shined a bright light on the strong leaders who have embraced their responsibility to support their employees and society during the COVID-19 crisis. This summer’s issue of MIT SMR explores how the pandemic has already changed the business world — and how we can move forward.
The office has triumphed over modern work life, defining where we present our professional selves and spend our daylight hours — and much of our lives. In 1843 magazine, Catherine Nixey briefly traces an intriguing history of offices, from early corporate examples in 1820s London to today’s pandemic-emptied open-concept workspaces largely abandoned for our homes. “Despite the commute and the colleagues, the sitting and the stale meetings, offices bring many of us something else too: joy.”
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Racism and racial discrimination are deeply woven into the fabric of America. Leaders’ words and actions on these crucial topics matter to your employees and customers — and can make a difference in the world. This article focuses on five actions your organization can take right now to both help employees cope and contribute to dismantling the systems of racism.
Last week’s #BlackOutTuesday, a music-industry initiative that quickly spread across social media, resulted in countless posts from corporate brands that struck The Atlantic’s Amanda Mull as “nearly identical in their vague phrasing and awkward execution.” It’s a crucial point for customers and companies alike to question what, beyond virtue signaling, do these messages offer?
How should companies plan for the future in the context of working from home on dispersed teams? There is no single solution, but it will involve a combination of technology deployment and job redesign. For some jobs, the biggest challenge will be replicating the serendipity of chance in-person encounters.
What Else We’re Reading This Week:
- It won’t be business as usual in the post-COVID world
- In collaboration with Deloitte, MIT SMR has a new research report, “Opportunity Marketplaces: Aligning Workforce Investment and Value Creation in the Digital Enterprise”
- Why it’s good to put down your phone and stop “doomscrolling”
Quote of the Week:
“We know from social science how to address some key issues at the individual, relational, collective, and context levels. The trick is that we have to do this all at once and in collaboration with each other. The trick is that we need to be inspired by our leaders to move forward coherently and consistently together. The trick is that we need to tap into our individual values within each of our contexts so that we can recognize our common humanity.”
— Morela Hernandez, the Donald and Lauren Morel Emerging Scholar in Business Administration and associate professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, in this week’s Three Big Points podcast episode, “Humanity: A Leader’s Secret Weapon”